If you are a project-centric organization, then a project management office (PMO) that is run effectively, efficiently, productively and focused on delivering great projects from great leaders is what it's all about.
Having the leader at the helm. A PMO that is headed in the right direction has an experienced leader at the helm. This person should have both a project management and resource management background, but this person should only be directing going forward. It is not wise to put a director in charge who will also be leading projects. This stretches that individual too thin – they will find that they are not available for PMO issues at key times and staff development and engagement will suffer in the long run. Indeed, the PMO will suffer greatly and it will likely be doomed to fail.
Selecting the right PPM tool to position your projects for success. Whether you have a project portfolio management (PPM) tool in place presently or not, you need one that fits your organization, project needs and reporting needs. So, if you have one, it may need to be rethought. If you don't have one, you should probably get one. The right PPM will help you analyze and choose the right projects. What technologies is your company equipped to handle this next quarter? What are your revenue goals and do the current projects in the pipeline matchup with those two and other criteria you've setup to help determine what projects to start next or even chase next? Your PPM should be able to help you with those decisions. And beyond PPM – there is such a thing as a hybrid PPM approach which allows you to combine the best of Scaled Agile with all major features of common PM standards including PMI, IPMA and PRINCE2. With a hybrid PPM / project management tool you can work smarter by taking advantage of fully integrated agile methodologies such as Kanban boards complementing proven, traditional tools like WBS and Gantt charts. Is it for your organization? You need to decide that based on your organization's PM methodology.
Making sure you have the available staff ready. Projects are coming – are you ready with seasoned professional project managers and the talented professionals that will be needed with the right experience to make up the project teams to work on them? I worked with one organization who had great people and a great product for the Las Vegas entertainment industry and the California movie industry, but they were selling projects faster than they could staff them. They were failing to get a handle on their resource management and the amount of resources of each kind that were needed to staff all the projects that the CEO was out selling. They brought me in to help them figure out how to understand their resource planning and over utilization and how to forecast resources needs for all the projects that were coming up. This is yet another example of where a PPM for integrated resource management would easily take care of an organization's needs. Once we fixed that together, the growing organization got back on track with planning and prioritizing projects and stopped causing frustrating delays for their very valuable awaiting project clients.
Ensuring the organization's leadership is behind you. Nothing says you’re in it for the long haul like being the baby of someone high up. Of course you need to perform as well. But if your PMO has the buy-in from the leaders at the top of your organization, then the likelihood that it will be well funded and well stocked with competent, seasoned project managers is much higher. You need for important projects to be thrown to the PMO right from inception and that will only happen if you have buy-in for the PMO infrastructure from the leaders of the company. If you don't have that buy-in, then it may be an up hill struggle getting all projects to originate in and be executed by the PMO.
Summary / call for input
A healthy PMO means a healthy PM infrastructure and more successful projects for the organization. That leads to happy management, more revenue, more profitability, more projects, more customers, etc. Stick to these PMO best practices listed here and you're on the right track to a high PMO health score. Check it often, PMOs can struggle at any time – don't get off track.
Readers – what's your take on this list? What struggles are you having with your PMO? Support, staffing, lack of successful projects?